Claire Powers is a self-proclaimed student of heroic living. After waging a war against her own mind through battles with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, and alcoholism, in a pivotal moment she chose to live her life differently. From that moment of desperation, she humbled herself to do whatever it took to learn how to fall in love with living. Claire is here with Timothy J. Hayes, Psy.D. today to share how she rose from suicidal to heroic and how she’s using what she learned to empower other women to do the same in her new start-up, Becoming Heroic.
Claire is opening the doors to her inaugural coaching program, Foundations of Heroic Living, in November 2020. To get on the waitlist for this program or learn more about Claire and her story, go to www.becoming-heroic.com. You can find Claire on Instagram @becoming_heroic where she shares the lessons she continues to learn as she strives to break through mental, emotional, and physical barriers to becoming the hero she seeks to be.
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Claire Powers – Becoming Heroic
Claire Powers is a self-proclaimed student of heroic living. After waging a war against her own mind through battles with depression, anxiety, eating disorder and alcoholism, in a pivotal moment, she chose to live her life differently. From that moment of desperation, she humbled herself to do whatever it took to learn how to fall in love with living. Claire is here with us to share how she rose from suicidal to heroic and how she’s using what she learned to empower other women to do the same in her new start-up, Becoming Heroic.
Claire, welcome. Thank you for joining us.
Thank you for having me. I’m honored to be here.
I was hoping you could start us off by telling us a little bit about how you got started in this work and what drives your passion for what you do.
This work is greatly inspired by my own personal journey. I was one of those people that went and went and then when I hit 25, my body started to give out on me. It started speaking up loudly that I couldn’t keep up who would that be. Modern medicine didn’t have any answers for me or any tools. After months of being in the hospital, they sent me home with a prescription pad of medications to take and said, “This is it.” I remember laying there on my couch thinking, “This can’t be my life.” I’m 25 and yet I can hardly get up out of bed. I’m tired and my body is breaking down. That was the first time that I expanded beyond what I knew and what I was willing to consider.
For me, that meant opening up to spirituality in a way that I before had been very close to. I went to a church for the first time. I ended up sitting down next to a functional medicine doctor who said, “If you’re willing to try something a little bit different, I can help you.” She did. Within a few months of working with her, I had reversed all of these symptoms of my autoimmune condition and learned about using food to heal my body, meditation, yoga and all of these new “tricks” to feel healthy. I ended up going to nutrition school to learn more about how to use food to heal myself and what the science was behind it.
My real crisis came after all of that when I had my son. Becoming a mother brought up a whole lot of things that I didn’t even realize I hadn’t dealt with. I had closed off my childhood. I had lived day to day and white-knuckled my way through things, but having a child and the sleep deprivation that goes along with that and the triggers that happen with him rocked my road to the place where I couldn’t function anymore. The tools that I knew weren’t helping me anymore and the resources that were available through modern Western medicine weren’t effective. I spiraled badly until I got to a place where I not only believed that I didn’t have worth as an individual, but that my presence made things worse and that my son would be better off without me. That was January of 2019.
I still remember laying there on the floor. My chosen method of numbing the pain was a glass of wine, but a glass of wine turned into 2 to 3 glasses of wine. I remember that night when I tried to take my own life and believed that truth that he would be better off without me. Something kept me alive. There is this tiny spark that wouldn’t be extinguished. That next morning, I woke up determined to find a way to love living. My journey since then has been an incredible one of every day seeking to find ways to fall in love with living and to love who I am as an individual.
Have you found that it required a series of things that interweave? Was there one thing that did a slingshot in your progress? What did you find to help you love living?Find ways to fall in love with living and to love who you are as an individual. Click To Tweet
I think that’s a yes-and question. I found that there is a core foundation that I needed to have that’s extremely solid. We talk about the foundational practices of eating, moving, sleeping, breathing and meditating. Those are the core fundamentals that I had to learn how to get strong because what I discovered on my journey was that if there was a crack in my foundation, no matter what I built on top of it, it was always at risk of falling if it was built on a faulty foundation. I put a lot of attention towards these everyday activities. They do the mundane things extraordinarily well so that then I have clarity of mind and spaciousness of spirit to think about what it is that I’m here to do. That is the second piece. It is believing that each and every one of us has a purpose here. We were uniquely created with talents and gifts that are ours alone and it is up to us to bring them out into the world. Every morning, I’m affirming to myself that I am the heroine of my journey and therefore, I am necessary and needed.
You’ve got the eating, moving, sleeping, breathing and meditation as your base. I think I would add your life purpose as a cornerstone based on what you said. What did you build on top of that? What have you been putting together for yourself that you’re now going to offer others?
I believe we get to this certain place in our journey and we can’t help but reach back a hand to those that maybe are struggling as well or lost in a way that we used to be lost. We get to be a little bit of that encouraging spirit that tells them that yes, they can. One of the things that I love to do that’s been part of my journey is to run Spartan obstacle course races. I love them because it helps me take what’s in my head that I can’t physically grasp and it makes them into an obstacle that I can overcome in my body. The last race that I did was my longest race, a half marathon with 40 obstacles.
There came a point in the race about 8 miles in and the woman that I was running next to looked down over this valley. We saw all of these hard obstacles lined up after each other. We’ve already run 8 miles and done 25 of these obstacles. It was like, “I don’t know if I can do this.” We both stopped running. I had this thought come into my head and I’m like, “No. Now is not when we give up.” I looked over her and I said, “We need to dig deep and keep going to finish the race strong.” She’s like, “You don’t know me very well, but this is about as deep as it gets. There’s not too much deeper to me.” She said it jokingly, but I think that’s something a lot of us believe about ourselves that we can’t handle what’s coming.
I had this moment of clarity of I believe that about myself too. I was out there on that course to prove to myself that I had more within me, that I was capable of more. I told that to her and I began to run again. Within a few minutes, she had caught up to me. She looked over and said, “I want to believe that about myself too.” What I hope to bring to others is their path may not look like my path. It shouldn’t. It should be their own, but they have everything within them that they need to overcome the obstacles that they’re facing. Whether it’s struggles in their relationships or parenting or work or it’s COVID-19 happening in the world. All of the resources that we need to handle it are within us if we have the courage to look within.
What do you offer at Becoming-Heroic.com? What are you launching this project that’s going to launch in November 2020?
In Becoming Heroic, our mission is to inspire individuals to live an uncommon life. By that, I mean that if we do what we’ve always done, we will get what we’ve always gotten. In November 2020, we’re going to be launching our foundational program called The Foundations of Heroic Living. If we want to be capable of doing great things in our lives and bringing about a great change in our world, we need a strong foundation in order to be able to continue and sustain that work now and for the rest of our lives. Foundations for Heroic Living is going to be a twelve-week course where we initially begin by discovering the hero within each of us. I believe that a hero isn’t a slayer of bad guys who flies and can do magnificent acts of great strength. I resonate with how the Greeks defined a hero. A hero is simply an individual with the strengths for it too and the greatest weapon that they wield is love.
Our guiding inspiration as part of these programs is to recognize that we are all capable of being the hero that we seek. We don’t need someone to come and save us. We are the savior that we have been waiting for us. How do we believe that about ourselves? How do we make decisions from a place of wanting to cultivate heroic strength and what are the values and virtues that a hero lives by? Once we spend a few weeks tapping into that belief and building a mindset of heroic strength, we then address each of the core fundamentals of eating, moving, sleeping, breathing, meditating and then we right ourselves, we build our own protocols. Something that’s unique about our program is that even though I’m a certified nutritionist and life coach, I don’t give plans. I simply empower the individual to create their own plan and provide a framework that we call the Becoming Heroic Model that will then grow with them. As they change and evolve, they can go back to that model with the new information that they have and create a new protocol for themselves.
What format will this twelve-week program take?
It is going to be a virtual program. Each week we’ll have a prerecorded masterclass on one of these core ideas. Each week we will have a live Q&A session where we can bring our questions, gather together as a group and group-think how to handle the obstacles we’re facing.
There are two different sessions each week. Are they an hour-long session or some other format?
The masterclasses, the prerecorded ones, are about an hour each. The live Q&As will hold space anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on what comes up during the session.
What’s the size range of the group you’re hoping for?
We are holding space for twenty individuals to join us.
How do they find out more about this and join if they’re interested?
For those that are interested in learning more about the program, I invite you over to our new website, www.Becoming-Heroic.com and sign up on our waitlist. The course information and early opening will be launching on October 15th, 2020.
You are talking about launching this new, but you’re also a certified nutritionist and a life coach. I’m assuming that you’ve done other coaching. What’s different about this program that you’re offering than what you’ve done in the past?
This will be the first time we are focusing on the Becoming Heroic Model, which is a four-step journey that I invite everybody to come on, and that is to question, to wonder, to seek and discover. This partner together with the core four values of courage, vulnerability, curiosity and connection. The reason that this is different is that this is how I don’t offer a set protocol for everybody to follow. Instead, I invite everybody to begin to question with courage. What is it that doesn’t feel good in my life? What is it that isn’t serving me? How do I feel in my body when I eat that thing? We move from questioning once we understand what our core needed isn’t being met. We wonder like, “What would my life be like if I ate this way? How would my life change if I thought a different thought? If I didn’t believe that I was worthless, what would change?”
From there, we enter into the active part where we tap into our heroic courage and strength to go on our quest. What came up when we wondered and to not stay in our minds, but to then bring it into action and say, “I wonder, and now it’s time for me to seek.” Whether it was choosing a new diet to follow or new meditation practice or working on a mindset belief, this is the active part of our journey and that leads us into discovery. What is it that I learned about myself by going on that quest? What did I learn about my body? What else do I need to do?Each and every one of us has a purpose here. We were uniquely created with talents and gifts that are ours alone, and it is up to us to bring them out into the world. Click To Tweet
That brings us full circle back into question. We go through these evolutions, instead of being a shame-based personal development that we use as a weapon against ourselves, it’s based out of curiosity and love and wonder about our true potential. This is a big divide from where I used to coach, where I came in as the expert, as the nutritionist and the coach who had transformed my life and would tell people what I did. They then would try to do what I did, with mild success but not sustainable because this is my truth. It works for me because I am me. I want to be able to inspire every individual to write their own and be empowered to choose what choices they make.
In a lot of the work that I do with people, I suggest some word changes. One of them that you’ve presented is the word vulnerable. When I work with people, I suggest that they switch that word out. Instead of saying, “They’ll be vulnerable,” which creates within itself the thought structure that there is damage, there’s a woundedness that can happen to me. That I’m putting myself potentially into harm’s way. I suggest that instead of talking about being vulnerable, we simply say, “I’m choosing to be open.” The truth of it is that who I am at my core and the essence of this being that’s aware, can’t be hurt, damaged, chipped, dented, rusted, faded and broken in any way. It’s perfectly safe for me to be open, to speak my truth, to share my experience, and to offer feedback when it’s asked of me. It’s perfectly safe.
To reflect that acknowledgment of the perfect safety, instead of using a word like vulnerable, I encourage people to use the word open. Be completely open. The other one that comes to mind when I talk about that is how people often talk about being a victim, “I was a victim of the economic downturn. I was a victim of sexual abuse. I was a victim of bullying.” Instead of using the word victim, I encourage people to put in the phrase, “I experienced the bullying. I experienced sexual abuse. I experienced the mugging trauma.” That shift from defining myself as being powerless and therefore a victim to the acknowledgment that it’s how I choose to interpret and respond to these events, however powerful or intrusive they may be. It’s my choice how to interpret and respond to them that creates an impact on me.
That is such a powerful distinction that I don’t think enough people talk about that. We are not our thoughts or what happened to us. That inner core self is safe. We’re not taught how to think and how to use our mind. Our mind still has that instinctual safety mechanism that has grooved in the animal brain, the hindbrain that wants to take over and groove these things in. That combined with our current culture and worldview is very easy to stay stuck in those victim mindsets and to say that pain is bad and that we need to avoid it. If something came up that was painful, we needed to find a way to get out of whether that was temporarily through a pill, a glass of wine, food or something like that.
Being able to learn that it’s simply a thought and that at any point in time, we can choose to think a different thought has been a massive game-changer for me. It has allowed myself to feel what I needed to feel. I had a big fear around feelings because I had an understanding of them that I would get stuck there. They were always something I was constantly working against. I never allowed myself to fully release into them, to grieve, to cry and to process. The sad part is that when you numb out the “negative emotions,” you also dampen the higher emotions as well, the joy, the connection, and all of that.
Being able to feel empowered that at any point, I could choose differently. I could choose to think a different thought. It gave me this grace to feel so I can fully feel this because I am in control. When I’m ready, when I’ve felt as much as I’ve needed to feel here, I will be able to choose a different thought and to then follow my actions from that different thought. Whereas, before I felt out of control. It felt like the emotions were in control and that was a thought that I told myself, then I had to hide away from those feelings.
I keep flashing on in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there was a big push for natural childbirth and the Lamaze techniques, Leboyer bath and all of these kinds of things. I went through several of those programs with various friends who were pregnant and trying to do the natural childbirth. One of the things that they talked about was if we simply define what we’re experiencing as pain, we get one intense reaction to it. If we redefine it as an energy or as a sensation, we create a different response to it. It’s the same kind of thing that allowed people to go through childbirth without any epidurals, without any heavy sedation. It’s the same kind of thing that when people have decided to do in-depth training and practice for hypnotherapy and use hypnosis to go through abdominal surgery with no anesthesia.
It’s not recommended that people try that without a lot of practice and coaching, but it’s been done. Things hypnosis and meditative training have allowed people to go through open abdominal surgery and experience it as a very mild and distant effect. Their mind is focused completely on something else. Their healing is entirely different than when we numb ourselves out with anesthesia and heavy drugs and sometimes, the morphine and things like that for the pain. This coaching that you’re doing to help people understand how powerful it is for them to choose an interpretation and then choose a response for life events and how that’s many times more powerful than the actual event itself.
What I have seen within myself and with others that I’ve had the chance to work with is that once you have this core belief about yourself, it resonates throughout your entire life. It’s not just that when this one thing comes up again, that you handle it differently, but you also handle other things differently. You have this inner trust now within yourself and that you believe that you are capable like, “This is a hard thing that’s happening.” There’s a sense of detachment because you are not it. You have the separation in your mind of here you are and this is simply an event or a circumstance that’s going on. It’s okay to say that, “This is hard. There’s going to be a struggle.” That was a part for me that I had to reckon with when I began this work. I had a very clear target in mind. That is to not be depressed, to not experience depression, and to not have this funk.
Something that I’ve had to come to learn is that I am a type of person who feels the pain of the world. When I speak with people, I feel it. It is a natural state for me to revolve through states of depressive feelings. For me, now when I feel that way, it’s no longer a source of judgment against myself. I no longer say, “I’m depressed.” I say, “I’m feeling depressed. I’m feeling low. I’m feeling funky.” I’ve made a connection to begin to question. Why am I feeling funky? What has been happening in my life that might have me feeling low or what’s stressful right now? I wonder what thought is at the core of that feeling? What am I telling myself about that circumstance, about what was happening that’s driving this feeling?
Being able to question, is that a thought that empowers me that serves my best self, that helps me handle the situation the way that I want to handle it? If not, I’m writing a new one and then backtracking. This is happening. This is how I want to be able to handle it. What thoughts do I need to think to be in the energetic state I need to be to handle it that way? Then detaching from the results. Even if I changed my mindset and I do show up a little bit differently, it doesn’t guarantee that what’s going to happen is how I envisioned it to happen. Engaging in the process and detaching myself from the results has been an incredible gift of peace of mind.
You mentioned that you’re aware that you feel pain around you and from others and the world. Have you tapped into Judith Orloff’s book The Empath’s Survival Guide?
I have not.
I highly recommend that book. I work with a number of people who are highly sensitive and/or empaths. One of the things I like about her book is that unlike many people that I’ve encountered over the years who say, “I’m an empath. I’m picking up somebody else’s pain. That’s not mine to deal with.” Inadvertently, for the most part, they use the label of being an empath to avoid doing their own work. To experience, to process, to learn the shielding techniques, to strengthen themselves and to work through their own issues, they use it as an excuse to not have to deal with their issues. In her book, she talks about how she had to learn about who she was because she’s sensitive. She had to learn doing the research to discover that about 20% of the population is far more sensitive than the average. Some of those people are empaths that go beyond being a little bit more sensitive to light, sound and the clothes that you wear.
You have either more mirror neurons or you’ve got a higher sensitivity to your mirror neurons. You have a stronger vasovagal response that activate this vagus nerve that runs from the face down through the throat, down into the abdomen. It kicks up your gut intuition that resonates the emotions that you are feeling and that you feel from others. Her book has a number of wonderful meditations and practices that you can begin to use to process through what’s going on for you, and what you feel going on between you and the environment or you and another person. She works at helping people take responsibility for what they’re feeling even if it’s been resonated by someone outside of them.
I resonate with that responsibility and the ownership of our own self. Also, there’s a component of that in my work. My calling I feel is we need more people in our world who aren’t numbing themselves out. We need to truly feel the pain of the world so that we will be catalyzed to make change. That’s scary to be someone who’s choosing to live differently, who’s choosing to not do what we used to do, whether that’s the drinking, TV watching, eating or the social media.
How do we create a life where we acknowledge what is happening in our world and do our inner work so that we are strong enough to be a part of the positive change? If we have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning and we can’t think beyond the barriers in our own mind as they exist, we cannot be a part of moving our world forward and seeing the change that we need to see. That drives me as well as wanting to be an exemplar of what that looks like on a daily basis.
It’s not exciting. People who would think like, “It’s not glamorous.” My life is more mundane now than it ever is, yet in other ways it is more exciting. I get to have conversations like these and do the work that brings my soul alive. I eat the same thing pretty much every day. I have two outfits that I wear and I don’t do social media much. I haven’t watched TV in five years. Many people say, “Your life sounds boring. What do you do for fun?” For me, my soul’s work is the most fun I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t trade it now. I know the difference after coming from a lifestyle of watching all of the TV shows, eating all of the food, and being on all of the social media. I would never go back if I had the choice.
I encourage you to keep launching this program and staying in touch with me. What’s the cost for someone to participate in your twelve-week program?
The Foundations of Heroic Living, the twelve-week program is $350. We do accept a payment plan option and there will be four scholarships slots open as well.
What you can do is if you get people who say, “I’d love to do this but I can’t afford it.” If you get more than one of them, put their name in a hat and draw the name and I will pay that.The greatest weapon heroes’ wield is love. Click To Tweet
Thank you. That’s very kind.
How do they find out about it? Give us your website one more time.
Becoming-Heroic.com is our website. There is a little signup form to get on our waitlist to be the first to hear about the launch. I also invite you over to Instagram at @Becoming_Heroic. I pop in a couple of times a week to share videos and behind the scenes of daily fundamental heroic living.
I look forward to hearing about the program. I already feel it’s going to be a success. Thank you for taking the time to share with us. I look forward to following your progress.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been an honor.
Claire Powers is a self-proclaimed student of heroic living. After waging a war against her own mind through battles with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, and alcoholism, in a pivotal moment, she chose to live her life differently. From that moment of desperation, she humbled herself to do whatever it took to learn to live in a way that’s falling in love with living. Claire is here with us in this episode to share how she rose from suicidal to heroic and how she’s using what she learned to empower other women to do the same in her new start-up, Becoming Heroic.
Claire is opening the door to her inaugural coaching program, Foundations of Heroic Living in November of 2020. To get on the waitlist for this program and learn more about Claire and her story, go to www.Becoming-Heroic.com. You can find Claire on Instagram @Becoming_Heroic where she shares the lessons she continues to learn and she strives to break through mental, emotional and physical barriers to becoming a hero that she seeks to be.
About Claire Powers
I am a self-proclaimed student of heroic living. After waging a war against my own mind through battles with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, and alcoholism, in a pivotal moment, I chose to live my life differently. From that moment of desperation, I humbled myself to do whatever it took to learn how to fall in love with living.
These pages are filled with the parts of my story and the lessons I’ve learned along this journey. I hope there is something that encourages you within these words to believe that no matter where you find yourself in this moment, you have absolutely.
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